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84 comments

Why a wiki? (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924449)

Wouldn't a good old-fashioned forum serve this purpose more effectively? I mean, it's not like the reviewers are going to be editing the actual patent submission, just discussing it.

Re:Why a wiki? (5, Insightful)

tacarat (696339) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924469)

Probably because a wiki is more meant to be a point of reference than forums are. There's nothing to stop them from adding a forum to the wiki, though.

Re:Why a wiki? (4, Insightful)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924528)

You and your parent poster are both right because a wiki is nothing more than a collapsed forum. When I read /. at threshold==5 it's the same thing as reading a wiki without looking at the deltas.

The bottom line is that the process will be more transparent and more open to correction than the current system.

If it would be a forum.... (4, Funny)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924501)

by page 20, they would be arguing why pink ponies are pink and if [insert favorite politician] owns one.

Re:If it would be a forum.... (1)

inKubus (199753) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926455)

and comments like how in Soviet Russia, patents own you and that a Beowulf cluster of them would be even cooler.

Look on the bright side... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15928436)

You could replace stupid patents with a picture of goatse or similar :-)

Imagine when they lawyers for some patent troll went to file *that* with the court...

Then again:
"So, you say you're suing Mr. Hawking because you've patented the black hole?"
"Yes, Your Honor, if I could direct your attention to Fig. A ..."

Re:Why a wiki? (4, Insightful)

interiot (50685) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924622)

Wikis are better at presenting a single summary of discussions. In a forum, minor mistakes don't get fixed easily (eg. if one person corrects another person, you have to read through the whole conversation to get an accurate glimpse of the conslusions drawn).

That doesn't mean wikis present only one view... a page can note that disagreement exists, and the page can present different views of a situation by different groups of people. But when there's longer amounts of discussion, having a single-page summary is far far better for newcomers, and for decision-makers to scan the arguments more quickly.

Re:Why a wiki? (3, Interesting)

NetSettler (460623) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924876)

Wikis are better at presenting a single summary of discussions. In a forum, minor mistakes don't get fixed easily

I took the original poster's (excellent) suggestion not to mean "literally use a forum" but rather, more generally, why not keep track of who said what? There's nothing to say you can't design a forum in which there are discussion threads and other mechanisms, such as accounts you can log into and vote. It's not rocket science to give the person a menu that says:

  • Post a comment to the discussion forum.
  • Register (or re-register) your present opinion about this in a multiple choice form that can be aggregated mechanically with others' votes.
  • Attach a free-form summary of your personal opinion on this item in 300 words or less (with optional URL pointer to a continuation page in another venue of your choice).

I don't think everyone editing each others' text is the way to go on this since it creates an artificial sense of tension--there's no reason that my having a different view than you means we have to fight over who's view gets recorded. But allowing each person the choice of several ways to present their throughts (interactively or not, multiple choice or not, size-constrained or not) seems good because you can get summarizable info when people choose to offer it.

Also, allowing anyone to update at any time means you can keep by-day summaries of how people's opinions change and to review the history of what the discussion and opinion summaries looked like on a given day.

Re:Why a wiki? (1)

Unequivocal (155957) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927288)

I know some of the organizers of this project. They are actually planning some of the features you describe. See this link [nyls.edu] for more details.

I believe they are intending to build a community review process, not a community wiki of patents. So there will be threaded discussion, karma, ratings AND group editing of documents. From what I can tell the project is designed to provide a community forum and process where experts can work together (or singly) to identify prior art, rate the relevance of submissions and send a sorted list of best examples to examiners BEFORE the examiner decides whether to approve of the patent. They may also take on the "novelty" part of the claim but this is obviously more subjective and therefore a somewhat harder problem.

Re:Why a wiki? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15959851)

http://www.wikipatents.com/ [wikipatents.com] - one part wiki, two parts forum, one part poll - over 3 million patents! Just launched, WikiPatents is initially using weighted commentary to permit the best comments to rise to the top. It just started its beta testing, so the solutions to many of the concerns mentioned below are on their way (hopefully).

Re:Why a wiki? (1)

wikipatents (997190) | more than 7 years ago | (#15960026)

http://www.wikipatents.com/ [wikipatents.com] One part wiki, two parts forum - over 3 million patents! The newly launched beta at WikiPatents provides weighted comments on specific topics relevant to individual patents. Ultimately the beta should address many of the legitimate concerns in this conversation. We welcome your feedback to help us improve the site.

Link to patent review project (5, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924471)

Curiously, neither the submission nor the CNN article gave a link to the actual project page [nyls.edu] for the Peer to Patent Project. That page has more information and a blog giving updates on progress. There's also a Community Patent Proposal Wiki [jot.com] , but it seems to be down.

Interestingly, the lead sponsors for the project are HP, IBM, Microsoft, and Red Hat. Strange bedfellows, eh?

Re:Link to patent review project (3, Interesting)

Meneguzzi (935620) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925542)

I think that these companies might actually be very interested in a fair patent process, especially the large ones. My reasoning is the following: even if it would be in their individual interest to try and exploit the patent process, they also know that their ability to exploit this process will be similar to that of the other companies.
The benefits of a large company being able to jeopardize another are clearly offset by the fact that they can be pushed back. This translates into every company spending large sums of money to maintain a legal team just to handle the "patent fast-talk". This is not in their best interest, and in the end this will probably escalate ad infinitum. So, if they all agree to use the system fairly, they can put that extra "lawyer money" into doing actual research, improving their chances to survive, rather than simply waste effort legally fighting other companies.

Lawyers are expensive (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925654)

The return on investment in lawyers isn't as high as it should be. Being unprofitable anything which reduces the numbers of lawyers is a good thing.

 

Project Red Herring (4, Insightful)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925828)

For me the whole approach looks amaterurish. It's like some persons who are clueless about patent reality thought of a new solution at the round table. It sounds nice and that is why Slashdot reported it, but in fact it is toyground action.

The patent problem has to be solved and the patent problem is NO problem of prior art, novelty assessment, "triviality" or "obviousness", patent examiner laziness or mistakes etc. However patent institutions and patent professionals like to let you enter the toyground. There you can think up solutions, but they will not solve the problems, and the institutions are safe.

Patent reform of Congress went into the same trap. They discussed the issue for the ..hmm ... third time(?) in 2006. It makes no sense to follow the red herrings. Red herrings serve the purpose that you don't get the fish.

Re:Project Red Herring (5, Interesting)

simong_oz (321118) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926438)

It's like some persons who are clueless about patent reality thought of a new solution at the round table.

Even worse, it's a solution to a problem which doesn't actually exist. The vast majority of people think they understand the patent process but simply don't. Publication is a vital part of the process, as is prior art assessment, demonstrating novelty and non-obviousness (to a "person skilled in the art"). You get a patent (ie. exclusive right to commercially prosper) for a set amount of time (20 years in most places) in exchange for disclosing the idea to everybody.

There is nothing to stop you filing a patent application which is an exact copy of an existing, granted patent. That patent application could go to PCT and be published at 18 months and then progress into national levels in individual territories. This could take 3-5 years and can happen without anyone in the patent office having actually examined the validity of that patent . If the patent application was published without an international search report, it might not even have been cross-referenced against the existing patent database!

Even granted patents are technically not valid until they have been challenged and upheld by a court.

Re:Project Red Herring (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 7 years ago | (#15929985)

"prior art assessment, demonstrating novelty and non-obviousness"

True, but: It is very important to understand that these steps are formal assessments in a patent process driven by patent examination logic. What the patent system rules as beeing "non-obvious" will be thought of as "trivial" by most of us. But that does not mean that the patent system made a "mistake" or did not examine properly. You cannot glue market "non-obviousness" in patent system "non-obviousness", in fact "non-obviousness" is just a label for a test in the patent process.

When you want to exclude "obvious" patents it is better to discuss subject matter. It will be impossible to exclude "obvious" patents by tinkering with the "obviousness" test.

The general problem: Either market is fooled by the patent system because the labels of the tests do not mean what they say or you try to apply the meaning of the market to the patent system tests and fail or you redesign will fuck up the patent examination process.

When you don't like software patents then discuss "subject matter", not "obviousness", not "novelty" etc.

Re:Project Red Herring (1)

inKubus (199753) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926537)

The REAL problem is lawyers. Any way you look at it, people can sue other people for the stupidest shit. If the patent people say person X has a patent on item A, and person Y claims prior art and sues, there's nothing the patent office can do about it.

However, I do like the idea of having all of us concerned volunteers able to give some of our time to help the patent office out with our spare time and do a lot of their research for them. Seeing as the patent process is important in our society, it could be something you do like voting--because it makes society better. Because over time, the approved patents and associated recorded research would be better quality (and better documented), more and more lawsuits will fail and the lawyers will start to realize it's rarely worth their time to sue.

It could be like that with anything. Congress should spend a few minutes reading the comments of the people on various bills as well, rather than listening to distorted media polls and that type of thing. In this era of easy communications, with the proper protocols, we could cut the media giants out almost completely and thus avoid their influence altogether. I mean, everyone already knows they are more about entertainment and ad sales than actual "reporting" nowadays...

Re:Project Red Herring (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 7 years ago | (#15930125)

Now, the patent system and the patent community faced a major blow from the EU efforts. But the current problem is that US citizens are not organised and raise the issue of software patenting.

Us citizens like to play with the red herrings which are novelty and non-obviousness. You are unable to solve anything that way. The fundamental problem is not examination but that the patent system is applied to fields where it has no meaningful role/foundation such as software and business methods. there is no way to fix the problem with wiki solutions or input. The way to solve the problem is ptressure. The institutions will then come up with "wiki style participation and baseless patent reform discussions which lead nowhere. But what you really have to say is that there is no role for patents in software. Too radical? It is not. It is the only advocacy way to solve the problem.

Lawyers as an interest group. Sure, this should be made public. How our legal system and lawyers exploit business for their dirty battles. You know there was a funny caricature: One person takes the cow from the front, his antoganist pulls her from the back and the attoney sits in the middle and melks it. Political economy and economic foundation, these are the weak elements of the system.

Non-obviousness, novelty discussions, then you participate as an amateur in the patent toyground and the patent institutions laugh at you and aducate you about the importance of patent reform, however no improvements will be made.

If you build it, they will abuse it. (4, Insightful)

crazyjeremy (857410) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924479)

The chances of this happening are inversely proportional to the chances that it will be abused if it does happen. If a major company has a multimillion dollar product on the line, they will do ANYTHING to make sure it gets approved, even if it means sabotaging any method open to the public. It doesn't matter if it's a wiki, a forum or a voting system, they will abuse it because millions (or even billions) could be on the line.

Re:If you build it, they will abuse it. (4, Interesting)

ian_mackereth (889101) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924635)

One of the best features of a wiki is that all the edits are visible. If there's consistent corruption of particular information damaging to a claim, then that's the information to look at!

I suspect that there will be more need for accountability than there is with, say, wikipedia, but just having the facts unearthed by an army of interested persons will be valuable.

The mere fact of having some prior art or other pertinent information on the wiki won't be 'make or break', but an idea of what factors need independent verification should add enormous value to the Patent Office's research.

Re:If you build it, they will abuse it. (1)

Achoi77 (669484) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925940)

which is why a major corporation will go straight to the source: have the site shut down - legally, or illegally.

Re:If you build it, they will abuse it. (5, Insightful)

tacarat (696339) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924652)

The chances of this happening are inversely proportional to the chances that it will be abused if it does happen. If a major company has a multimillion dollar product on the line, they will do ANYTHING to make sure it gets approved, even if it means sabotaging any method open to the public. It doesn't matter if it's a wiki, a forum or a voting system, they will abuse it because millions (or even billions) could be on the line.

Conversely, if a company's competitor has a multimillion dollar product on the line, it could be very beneficial to help dig up prior art to prevent/negate a patent and then cash in by selling (or not withdrawing) a similar product. That might sound bad, but it would allow for actual innovations to get protected (no prior art) and allow the public (as well as other companies) to pay less for derivative items because of increased competition. If the idea catches on, the grassroots/astroturf community could get used to help ensure keep sabotage successes to a minimum.

I think it's a great idea. I just wish I could see how it'd apply to biotech items. Patenting genes and chemicals found in nature still bugs me.

Re:If you build it, they will abuse it. (1)

gutnor (872759) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925974)

"If a major company has a multimillion dollar product on the line"...
"if a company's competitor has a multimillion dollar product on the line"...

So basicaly the system is doomed: 2 companies screwing the system in their direction doesn't automatically produce the truth or something fair for the rest of the world. Companies will fight using their usual ways : I let you "if then else" patent go through on the other hand you let my "for next" patent in.
Also "multimillion dollar" basically means that only patent when there is an ego fight between 2 big companies have some hope of reaching the truth. For Small Company/Small Investor vs Big Company, money still buys the patent.

Re:If you build it, they will abuse it. (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927450)

So basicaly the system is doomed

The way I see it, this is actually the way the patent system is supposed to work. The only way that a competitor can prevent a patent is by proving that there is "prior art", thus preventing somebody from patenting something that's not new and needing protectionn. The only way a company can protect itself from losing patent status is to make sure that their product actually is new and not just an exercise in word play that's an older innovation.

Either way, one mustn't forget that "Patent Pending" will still hold weight. Being first to market with a new product will also still be important for selling items, super-innovative or not. Hopefully what happens is that newer products will reach consumers with a better range of selection, at better prices and made at higher standards of quality. All of these traits have been allowed to slide a bit because some companies have been able to threaten competing companies with lawsuits over ideas that may not truely deserve patent status.

Re:If you build it, they will abuse it. (1)

orgelspieler (865795) | more than 7 years ago | (#15930870)

Actually, it's not even that easy to prevent a patent. Our lawyer told us we couldn't prevent the government from issuing a competitor's patent, even though it was something we invented and had proof of prior art. The problem was that our prior art was not patented (we thought it was too obvious), so it was below the examiner's radar. Our lawyer said the best we could do was to write a letter to their lawyer stating that we invented the device in question. Unfortunately that didn't end up helping. The patent was granted, and the competitor threatened to sue us and our customers for using their IP. We worked around it by redesigning, but still, it was a pain in the ass. Right now, any type of public comment period would help. wiki, snail mail, town crier, messenger pigeon, anything!

Re:If you build it, they will abuse it. (2, Interesting)

strider44 (650833) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925157)

When someone's looking to revue a patent they're not looking for positive things in why the patent is good, they're looking for reasons why it shouldn't be given. So if you let people only give reasons why the patent shouldn't be given what is the company going to do? Post bad things about the patent? I think the more open the patent registering system the better.

Re:If you build it, they will abuse it. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15925338)

The biggest problem is unlikely to come from businesses abusing the system. It is going to come from the "volunteers" yes the people with all that free time on their hands and an indepth knowledge of patent law. Let's face it, the only people who have enough free time are sitting in their parent's basement right now, yes you Slashdot users who have demonstrated time and time again that they don't know anything about patent law, can't read a claim to save their lives and wouldn't know prior art if it hit them.

Re:If you build it, they will abuse it. (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927598)

"The biggest problem is unlikely to come from businesses abusing the system. It is going to come from the "volunteers" yes the people with all that free time on their hands and an indepth knowledge of patent law. Let's face it, the only people who have enough free time are sitting in their parent's basement right now, yes you Slashdot users who have demonstrated time and time again that they don't know anything about patent law, can't read a claim to save their lives and wouldn't know prior art if it hit them."

Actually, I'm curious how much patent law knowledge is going to be needed by the volunteers. I would think that the main thing needed to disprove something's patentability is the knowledge of prior inventions that did the exact same thing. You don't need to be a lawyer to say "my grandpa showed me an XYZ that did that when I was a kid, so it's not new".

A wiki seems a strange choice (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15924490)

It's laudable that they want people to have a say in whether patents should be approved, but why a wiki instead of a normal forum? The only reason I can think of is that in a forum people usually post multiple similar comments because they don't read what has already been written prior to posting (yes, I'm talking to you, Slashdot!*), and reading all those comments would turn into another burden for patent examiners. However, even with a wiki you have to read the history of the page, or you might just get the last person's opinion. So, again, why a wiki?

BTW, it will be mightily interesting to see if this has none, some, or a major impact on what patents are actually approved. I can imagine geeks with too much time on their hands will find some obscure prior art to almost everything that companies think of patenting, thus leaving only the things that really should be patentable to make it through the process. In short, how it should be. But it all remains to be seen.

* And yes, I'm aware that somebody has probably posted a comment similar to this one already, making it oh so ironic. Yawn.

This will produce some *very* unhappy campers. (4, Interesting)

70Bang (805280) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924505)


Specifically, those who would ordinarily slip through the cracks because someone doesn't catch prior art.

A significant population with an [almost] unmeasurable body of knowledge and information would do a pretty thorough job of flagging someone which the patent examiners working under extremely high pressure to push things down the assembly line. This would make the examiner's job one of validation of claims posted via wiki.

One question remains: What's going to happen if we see a couple of companies who shall remain nameless and are granted patents by filling out a pre-approved form are faced with prior art (or silly art) claims and the company receives the approval anyway? That might prove there's some monkey business is afoot. (Donating a Playboy Bunny to their favorite charity? (Charity begins at home)

F1rst Post111 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15924510)

SNAKES on a PLAIN

Frday Check It Out!!!

Obvious problem (3, Interesting)

moquist (233465) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924523)

The content of a patent application isn't protected until the patent is approved. Submitting your patent application to a public site lets all your competition know details of what you're doing with absolutely no guarantee that you'll get patent protection of your idea(s).

I must be missing something, because this seems so obvious and insurmountable.

Re:Obvious problem (2, Insightful)

postsingularity (874666) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924580)

In the current patent process patent applications are already published 18 months after filing. If there were to be a patent wiki it would probably only be used for published applications.

Re:Obvious problem (4, Insightful)

nonlnear (893672) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924582)

The content of a patent application isn't protected until the patent is approved. Submitting your patent application to a public site lets all your competition know details of what you're doing with absolutely no guarantee that you'll get patent protection of your idea(s).

I must be missing something, because this seems so obvious and insurmountable.

Yes, you are. First, your first statement is only partially true. An invention only has guaranteed protection once a patent has issued. However, once the application is submitted, the contents are retroactively protected if the application succeeds.

Also, any inventor who wants to seek protection outside the US has to make a public application anyways. The US is basically the only country left with a closed review process. You can opt for a closed review, but then your patent is only enforceable inside the USA (and possibly a couple other places - but not Europe, and some other large markets).

Second, the fact that the site is "public" is ot the relevant fact for patent validity. What matters is if the inventor makes one of a few categories of "disclosure". That includes most avenues of publishing, sales, etc. But if the USPTO does something that resembles disclosure (like posting it in a review wiki), they are still free to give it whatever legal definition they deem appropriate. And there's no way that they would define any part of their review process as a disclosure.

Re:Obvious problem (3, Informative)

mavenguy (126559) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925348)

Your correction of the GP is mostly correct, but has, itself, one error: There is no retroactive effect to issue of a patent; it is only effective as of the date of issue, and expires no later than 20 years from the effective filing date of the application (the expiration date might be sooner due to things like terminal disclaimers, failure to pay maintenance fees, but might also be longer due the effect of the Patent Term Extension Act, mainly for pharmaceuticals subject to regulatory approvals). The benefit of an earlier filing date is immunizing the application/patent against prior art attacks.

Re:Obvious problem (1)

nonlnear (893672) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926059)

Shucks, if that's true, I've got to talk in a little more detail about this mess with our Patent clerks. The one I talked to left me with the distinct impression that what I said was the case. That might have been my inattention to detail though.

In hindsight, he might have been talking about the long-term enforceability issue: that publication of a patent application doesn't invalidate the patent once it has been issued. That would be consistent with what you're saying. Either way, I've got to ask more precise questions next time we talk.

Thanks.

Re:Obvious problem (2, Interesting)

Flyboy Connor (741764) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925416)

Maybe his statements are not correct from a legal point of view, but they do illustrate a practical issue which will surely rear its head with a patent-wiki.

Usually, a company applies for patents on all kinds of novelties for their new products. Often these novelties are not really patent-worthy: they are based on a novelty in an obscure older product (prior art), or they are quite obvious to anyone with the right skills. Still, the company applies for the patents because they might get some of them granted (since the USPTO cannot do a good job), which gives them leverage in court should the need arise.

And what if they do not get a patent? Well, no problems there, they will probably still be the first who brings a certain novelty to the market because the competition does not know what they are working on. Unfortunately, that will change with a patent-wiki: the competition will have a pretty good idea what will be in the new product, and will make sure that they do the same thing - especially if they feel the novelty is not patent-worthy, which they will vehemently argue on the wiki.

So the patent-wiki will probably stem the flood of patent applications for practical reasons.

Which, I suppose, is a good thing.

Re:Obvious problem (2, Informative)

simong_oz (321118) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925420)

...your first statement is only partially true. An invention only has guaranteed protection once a patent has issued.

Even this is a common misunderstanding of patents. Technically, even a granted patent is not actually tested until it ends up in a court. Just because a patent is granted (remember that most of what you see is actually a patent application and many of those will never be granted) doesn't mean it will stand up in court.

The patent process is expensive and slow enough as it is - as far as I can see this would simply make it slower and more expensive.

Re:Obvious problem (1)

kansas1051 (720008) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926282)

Yes, you are. First, your first statement is only partially true. An invention only has guaranteed protection once a patent has issued. However, once the application is submitted, the contents are retroactively protected if the application succeeds.

All patent applications in the US are kept secret until 18 months after they are filed -- see 35 U.S.C. 122. After 18 months, the application is published and is viewable to all [unless the applicant pays a fee and promises not to file foreign applications, then the application can remain secret]. If a patent should issue from a published application, the patentee is not entitled to retroactive damages back to filing. Instead, if the claims of the published application are the same as the claims of the patent, the patentee can seek damages going back to publication - not filing. Note: no patentee has ever recovered in the U.S. for pre-issuance damages because the bar is set so high.

Re:Obvious problem (1)

49152 (690909) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928098)

However, once the application is submitted, the contents are retroactively protected if the application succeeds.

IANAL but it is my understanding after dealing with such lawyers that patent protection is from filing date. But you usually can only get awarded back-damages from the publication date.

Second, the fact that the site is "public" is ot the relevant fact for patent validity. What matters is if the inventor makes one of a few categories of "disclosure". That includes most avenues of publishing, sales, etc. But if the USPTO does something that resembles disclosure (like posting it in a review wiki), they are still free to give it whatever legal definition they deem appropriate. And there's no way that they would define any part of their review process as a disclosure.

You are free to publicly disclose your invention in any way, form or shape after you have filed the patent application. At least this is what our lawyers told us.

A sale might not be considered disclosure if the invention is of such a nature that you cannot tell how it works be simply studying the product. (I.E. a black box, some software patents etc).

Re:Obvious problem (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924614)

Even a two-line summary of the general idea would produce enough "Oh fer cryin' out loud" posts to prevent the kind of single-click-checkout prior art disasters we've had in the last few years.
What we really need is an outright ban on software patents, but the greedy corporations and the politicians in their pockets will never let that happen - take a look at the end-run being attempted in Europe right now for evidence.

Re:Obvious problem (4, Funny)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924639)

Everything's obvious in retrospect. People seeing something for the first time claiming "I could have thought of this" have no credibility in my book, whether or not they cry out loud.

Re:Obvious problem (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925936)

No, a summary would not be sufficient. The implementation details are the critical part since prior art claims need to use this same implementation. A summary would cause too many false-positives.

Re:Obvious problem (4, Informative)

49152 (690909) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924671)

Bullshit.

Already today the USPTO publishes pending patent applications, usually years before they are either approved or denied.

You can see for yourself here: http://appft1.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.h tml [uspto.gov]

Publication is a very fundamental part of the patenting process, if you do not want your competition to know about your invention then you cannot patent it either. The idea is that if your invention really is novel then you will get protection sooner or later and can go after anyone thats infringing on your patent.

If your application does not get approved, then you are correct that you will have lost any edge on your competition by way of secrecy. But then again, if your application is rejected then its most likely not very valuable anyway.

BTW: This is the reason a lot of millitary research or technology deemed important for national security is never patented. Patent applications implies publishing.

Re:Obvious problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15927613)

The patent office actually has a procedure to handle national security sensitive patents. Some examiners have a security clearance, and the patents are granted but held in secret. It kind of runs counterintuitive to the public disclosure nature of patents, but it's there nonetheless.

There is already a way in place for public comment as to the validity of patents. It's called Ex Parte re-examination. Members of the public who have a reason to doubt the validity of a patent can submit evidence and the patent office will reexamine the application. It's probably best to only do this for issued patents, as having the public comment on every single application would create a huge workload for the examiner who had to sift through it.

Re:Obvious problem (1)

49152 (690909) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927860)

>The patent office actually has a procedure to handle national security sensitive patents. Some examiners have a
>security clearance, and the patents are granted but held in secret. It kind of runs counterintuitive to the
>public disclosure nature of patents, but it's there nonetheless.

That is not correct.

The government can declare a patent application secret due to national security, but if they do then the patent will not get granted until the secrecy order is lifted again. The patent process is freezed right at the step of actually granting the patent. So you cannot actually have 'black patents' that no one knows about but 'black patent applications' which is a bit different.

Source: http://sf.indymedia.org/news/2005/07/1716951.php [indymedia.org]

Re:Obvious problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15924883)

The content of a patent application isn't protected until the patent is approved. Submitting your patent application to a public site lets all your competition know details of what you're doing with absolutely no guarantee that you'll get patent protection of your idea(s).

I must be missing something, because this seems so obvious and insurmountable.

Then companies would have a real incentive to actually make sure something is original before trying to patent it. That would be terrible!

Wait... I must be missing something, in what way is that a bad thing?

Uhmmm ... not a new idea (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924534)

I can't find where I posted this, but I suggested this months ago. Its a great idea, use and open source methodology to bring the USPTO up to date with things like, oh, say... prior art, and maybe perhaps just what exactly is really a bad idea? If there were respected members from relevant industries, it would be even more appropriate, and work more effectively. Mind you, Mr Balmer should be permanently banned (sorry, couldn't help myself) The point is that the USPTO cannot continue to be experts on everything, they need help, and this is a very workable way to help them.

nuff said

yeah (2)

bostonsoxfan (865285) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924599)

I would love this, but you would need experts, men who know about engineering, software and such, people you allow to vote to do this through a portal like a wiki. That way they don't even need to be in the same room. Hell you could have one man create a list of people who would get one time logins to be able to go on an edit the wiki or something like that. I dont necessarily the public should be allowed but hell make it open, forty percent of americans go out to decide the next president, what are the chances more than those who are interested will go especially if you make some sort of sign up. That probably will discourage all the but the hardcore troublemakers.

Bad idea (3, Interesting)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924609)

Wikis are great at things which involve facts where no one gains anything from lies (See Guildwiki for example).

Wikis are bad when millions of dollars are involved and anyone can edit them. It only takes some "unknown person" who "doesn't have anything to do with the company" to goto the wiki and repeatedly edit it so it seems the patent is invalid or worthless and it may just seem that way (yes I know theres checks). Look at viral marketing and Sony's "lets graffiti shit to look cool" idea, notice how companies don't care how much money they spend just so they can look cool? Well what if they could pay some kid a couple of bucks a week to edit a wiki which could influence major things down the line... Yep you guessed it, they'll eat it up.

People need to register "Use the right tool for the right job" rather than "Wow it's open source! I bet I can use this system to fix everything in the world! Cancer/World hunger/Wars I've got your number bitch!"

Y6o0 FAIL it.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15924666)

who sell anothe8 Violated. In the

Some real flaws (4, Interesting)

aiken_d (127097) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924704)

I hate patent abuse as much as the next guy, but this seems like it's just begging for abuse.

How's this for a (new) patent abuse business model:
- Watch patent review wiki for interesting stuff
- Steal good ideas that other people have
- Instantly work on creating pre-dated "prior art" on websites, blog postings, etc
- Use shill accounts to point out the "prior art"
- Make some good cash off of other peoples' R&D

Or how's this for a "fuck with a much-hated company" mob mentality:
- Watch for patent applications from the hated company
- Instanlty work on creating pre-dated "prior art" on websits, blog postings, etc
- Post to slashdot, digg, etc, linking to the manufactured "prior art"
- Watch while thousands of tech zealots slam the patent on the wiki, citing your dishonest "prior art"

There are plenty more ways to abuse this, of course, those two just came to mind quickly and are kind of amusing.

The patent system is broken, that's for sure. But this isn't the answer. Or at least, if this is the answer, we might as well do away with patents altogether, since they will be very, very easy to dishonestly undermine. I know I'll get jumped on here, so let me ask that if you favor simply removing patents (or software patents, or whatever) from the law, please just say that and don't defend this terrible idea because it gets the outcome that you want while still pretending to support the idea of patents.

-b

Re:Some more real flaws (1)

pacalis (970205) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924982)

Good points, some other more really big flaws on patent quality. 1. Novices don't have the experience to judge patent claims (sorry /. but this is part of why the CAFC was createdhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Board_of_Paten t_Appeals_and_Interferences , for this to work it should be for experts to provide limited by relevant counter claims) 2. Exminers can't desk reject patents - so while the wiki might be identify flaws, bs patents will still issue and will still need to be proved out in negotiation/litigation (that said the wiki would help valuation of patents) 3. I think the f-with much hated company could easily happen, but it probably won't nix a deal between for example two big semi-cos --> they'll still drift to license/litigation if they have a beleif in their IP . However, it will screw the small inventor who won't have the resources to overcome a barrage of novice opinions nixing the technology. I'm all for better prior art but in patents, but we need A HIGHER DENSITY OF EXPERTISE IN THE PATENT SYSTEM NOT LESS as enabled by this wiki design.

Re:Some real flaws (2, Interesting)

Duncan3 (10537) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925336)

That's why they are also moving to a first-to-file model. Prior art no longer matters, all that matters is who pays the $50k++++ it takes to do a patent these days.

That fee will likely increase greatly, since with any sort of real reviewing, almost no patent would ever make it. Less patents, higher fees each.

Frankly, patents don't matter for a hill of beans anymore. China doesnt honor them, and noone else is good enough about allowing slave and prison labor to make their costs low enough. Every movie, product, idea is out and copied in China before it's even available here. What did you think the whole "software as service" thing was all about - copy protection.

Anyway, noone here will ever afford one, so no worries. Whatever it is is already at Walmart for $2 :)

Re:Some real flaws (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926243)

That's why they are also moving to a first-to-file model. Prior art no longer matters

That's not correct. Prior art still matters, because it goes to the very patentability of whatever it is one is trying to patent. Something that is not novel is simply not patentable at all. The change that "first to file" would make is that in the case of a novel patent, the patent would be awarded to whoever makes the first filing, and not whoever is the first to actually invent it.

For example, presume that X completes a prototype microwidget in 2005, and Y independently completes a working microwidget in 2006. In 2007, two patents for microwidgets are filed - first by Y in June, then by X in July. Under our current system, X would (assuming he can prove it) be awarded the patent because he was first to invent the microwidget. Under the changed system, Y would be awarded the patent, because Y filed first. Under either system, if Z challenges the patent and demonstrates that microwidgets have actually been around for years, the patent is invalid for not being novel.

Re:Some real flaws (2, Insightful)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925625)

I hate patent abuse as much as the next guy, but this seems like it's just begging for abuse.

Which "next guy" would that be? Jeff Bezos?

How's this for a (new) patent abuse business model: - Watch patent review wiki for interesting stuff

Nosey parkers ought to mind thier own business! I mean it's not as if the patent system was set up to spread this sort of information or anything...

- Steal good ideas that other people have

...some of them dating back to the middle of the nineteenth century (MS "IsNot" patent, anyone?)

- Instantly work on creating pre-dated "prior art" on websites, blog postings, etc

...because the existence of a web page with no hard copy support and no prior existence on any electronic archive is bound to be automatically accepted as incontrovertible evidence, after all...

- Use shill accounts to point out the "prior art"

... because there's going to be nobody else reviewing the patent, after all. Just the poor helpless proposer and a thousands and thousands of rapacious IP sharks. Of course, if those R&D companies with a vested interest in a fair patent system were to join the debate, some balance might be applied. But what are the chances of that happening...?

- Make some good cash off of other peoples' R&D

Always assuming that that patent is valid, which it may not be; that review community is fundamentally crooked; that the patent office rubber stamp the wiki recommendation, (which I suppose is plausible); and that the flimsy electronic "evidence" survives even the most superficial legal review.

That's quite a lot to take for granted. Luckily, the patent office are not making assumptions either way, which is why this is being conducted as a trial. To see if it works.

There are plenty more ways to abuse this, of course, those two just came to mind quickly and are kind of amusing.

... and they don't read like a hysterical over-reaction in the slightest.

I know I'll get jumped on here

What, after such carefully considered analysis? You reckon?

How many free eyes are they expecting? (2, Interesting)

darkonc (47285) | more than 7 years ago | (#15924820)

THe nice thing about the wiki (probably, in their eyes) is that they're probably expecting it to grow exponentially like the original wiki did.

In this case, however, they seem to be expecting tghousands of 'volunteers' to go hunting through an exponentially expanding list of stupid applications and doing the reviewer's jobs for free. I expect that this is really only going to happen to the most agregious of the 'bad' patents.

Other than that, you might be able to hope that some of the big companies will start assigning people to look at these things on an ongoing basis in the hops of slamming just about anything that moves before it get legs. Of course, if they start making agreements as to what they'll 'miss', then we'll have the worst of both worlds -- with the big companies setting up truces against each others' "volunteer" examiners, while the little guys get lambasted.

Yep. Lots of room for abuse.

Participants get sued - for knowing patent use (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15925000)

An important fact about patents is that the damages for knowingly using a patent are much larger than those for doing it un-knowingly. It's going to be very interesting when people who review the patents in the wiki get sued and have difficulty denying their knowledge. Or, more interestingly, when the patent trolls start demanding IP addresses behind user names to help in their lawsuit campaigns.

I'm really not sure it will be wise to contribute to this if you have anything to do with software production or ever plan to have anything to do with software production.

How will.. (1)

nexarias (944986) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925017)

How will astroturfing be prevented? Or minimized?

Bills into Laws (3, Insightful)

thekaleb (995961) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925088)

Or one could use a wiki system to write bills for congress. Citizen generated laws.

Re:Bills into Laws (1)

JBHarris (890771) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927334)

I was hoping someone would mention this idea. I've been thinking this for months. It would completely remove those piggyback clauses that we see so often (especially in the House). We could all edit a bill, then all vote on it once it was considered 'final'. If it failed the vote, it could go back into 'wiki-mode' and be revised until everyone that voted on it was happy, or until it passed. I see the oversight on this being terrific. It may take an amendment to the Constitution for some of this, as it certainly makes the Senate and House kind of redundant. Even putting something in place such as a comment/edit moderation system where the best ideas/and revisions bubble to the top. It would be fantastic, and everyone would feel as though they played a more important role in governing themselves....The End of Corruption in our Congress. I'm all for it.

Why not just approve all patents? (2, Interesting)

slashdot.org (321932) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925215)

Seriously, that's pretty much what's happening anyway. The only way to find out if a patent is valid is through a court-case. I never understood why the patent office works the way it does. Why not just have people register whatever they want. If they find an infringer, they are going to have to prove that they really are infringing, and the infringer is going to have to prove that they are not in front of a judge and jury. Why try to (very ineffectively) do some of this in advance?

You could even add fines for entities registering patents which have unmentioned prior art (they obviously didn't do their research).

It would perhaps also keep investors from only investing in companies that _appear_ to have some interesting patents, but no real technology/knowledge/expertise to back it up. It would be nice to see more investment into companies that actually know how to make something and actually advance technology.

Hmm. (1)

JKConsult (598845) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925241)

I'm not a patent guy (I'm not nearly technically minded enough), but I asked this when this was first floated: Why exactly should we be doing their job for them? I know, I know, the patent system is broken. But this is the best they can come up with?

Re:Hmm. (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925555)

Okay, option 2, then: Pay more taxes.

Re:Hmm. (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926184)

Have you seen the budget deficit in the US?

Why would anyone assume that something that involves the government spending more money also involves taxpayers actually paying for it? We just need to raise the debt ceiling another trillion dollars and spend, spend, spend!

Simon Phipps (Sun):"the social contract is broken" (2, Insightful)

D4C5CE (578304) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925424)

In a recent post on his personal blog [webmink.net] , he had this to say:
For it to be worthwhile for society to grant these "temporary monopolies", both sides of the deal have to be maintained. I filed a few patents back when I was at IBM, and none of them seems to me to convey the know-how for a skilled programmer to be able to use the idea readily. They are patterns designed to help a patent attorney identify infringement. While the progress of the software industry's know-how was only being advanced by corporations, there was a (barely plausible) rationale for software patents; their lawyers could decode the patents. But now the individual developer acting in community is an equal source of progress, it is clear to me that the social contract is broken.
In this setting, it seems unlikely that asking the public, and software developers in particular, to verify (or do) the patent examiners' work can be of any use. It's a remedy that does not quite fit the problem, which is granting patents on matters that once were excluded for good reason.

Moreover, the articles also linked there [webmink.net] indicate that in the field of software at least, quite probably there never even really was such a time when the "industry's know-how was only being advanced by corporations" (rather than e.g. academics and individual inventors).

This already exists for over 1 year already (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15925539)

Take a look at my site:
http://prevalent.de/index.pl?site=1&subsite=3&lang =en [prevalent.de]

Ok, it's for german and european patents only, but it should fit to give you an idea on how I imagined this. On the left side there is always a patent application, and on the right side you can vote the patent, submit prior art, use a forum to discuss or enter a wiki side for each patent.

The difference is, that I don't review patents before they are published. (That's not possible of course). But there are new patents that are granted, but are still within the german or european objection time.

Until today I filed four objections at the german patent office against granted patents. The cases are still running and not yet decided.

Take a look at it: http://prevalent.de/index.pl?site=1&subsite=3&lang =en [prevalent.de]

cu,

Jan

Re:This already exists for over 1 year already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15926540)

I forgot to mention, the objected patents are:

1. Method for automatically handling undesired electronic mail in communication networks at the recipient end (Invented by T-Mobile 17th Sep. 2002 http://v3.espacenet.com/family?DB=EPODOC&IDX=EP154 0904&F=8&OREQ=0&textdoc=TRUE [espacenet.com] )
All Snail-Mail objection correspondence online: http://wiki.prevalent.de/index.php?title=DE1024324 3B4 [prevalent.de]
(Yes, T-Mobile invented SPAM filters in 2002)

2. METHOD FOR ADAPTING A DATABASE DISPLAYED ON A CLIENT DATA PROCESSING UNIT TO A SOURCE DATABASE STORED ON A SERVER DATA PROCESSING UNIT (Invented by Siemens 25th Apr. 2003 http://v3.espacenet.com/family?DB=EPODOC&IDX=EP161 8494&F=8&OREQ=0&textdoc=TRUE [espacenet.com] )
All Snail-Mail objection correspondence online: http://wiki.prevalent.de/index.php?title=DE1031988 7B4 [prevalent.de]
(Yes, Siemens invented CVS, SVN, Internet-Browsing and downloading E-Mails to you homecomputer in 2003)

3. Computer and control method therefor (Invented by Siemens, 30th Mar. 2001 http://v3.espacenet.com/family?DB=EPODOC&IDX=EP137 4031&F=8&OREQ=0&textdoc=TRUE [espacenet.com] )
All Snail-Mail objection correspondence online: http://wiki.prevalent.de/index.php?title=DE1011589 9B4 [prevalent.de]

4. Fingerprint addressing system and method (Invented by Hewlett-Packard, 25th Apr. 2002)
All Snail-Mail objection correspondence online: http://wiki.prevalent.de/index.php?title=DE1021853 7B4 [prevalent.de]

Maybe good, maybe not so good, but... (1)

mavenguy (126559) | more than 7 years ago | (#15925569)

...while some good points about how this scheme can be sabotaged by entities for or against a given application there is one aspect that is critical as to how successful this concept will be, namely, how the PTO will implement this. The key aspect that signals this is hinted at in TFA: examiners, on average, have about 20 hours to spend on an application so that they will be rated "fully successful"; to meet this critical requirment in their Performance Appraisal plan they must average out, over any one year period, at least 95% of their assigned "expectancy" Now the "hot button" technologies have been rated at the highest level, so the software, business methods, biotech areas get roughly twice the time (i. e. about 40 hours).

These time figures have been in place since about the latter 1960s (although the "hot buttons" areas are more recent).
Congress has generally critcized the PTO for the excessive application pendency, so a PTO management culture developed dedicated to controlling pendency, and the productivity requirement is, along with some time limits to respond to activity once the first action has been issued, the primary driver used to effect this control.

Over the years, because additional requirements have been added to the examination process, along with the courts increasing the showings needed to legally establish non-obviousness, it has been harder to examine an application. Because the time allotted is constant the quality of issued patents has declined (yes in infringement cases the Courts apply the same, increased burden, but then the parties can devote hundreds of hours, not, at best, 40 hours or so as in the PTO during examination).

As to this current wiki proposal: if PTO management implements this as it has other examination process "enhancements" in the past, it will be "bolted onto" the existing process; just one more "thing" that has to be "checked off" in the prosecution of the application with no more time give to accomodate it. The result will be, if the examiner knows that it will be "wikied" is that less time will be spent during the pre-wiki initial exaamination, betting that the post wiki part of examination will likely develop the best prior art; after all why waste a lot of time with the prior art that will be developed pre wiki when, later, new, better prior art is developed that will just stretch out the prosecution, leading to a lower production figure (remember, it's a constant).

It's possible that PTO management will actually develop a reasonable program that is actually effective, but given their past, deeply ingrained "production line" mentality, I rather doubt it.

Improve patents (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15925629)

Some time ago i posted the following on a wiki
http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?HowToImprovePatents [c2.com]

# The evaluation of patents should be based on objective methods, not subjective rules.

# A business secret rule. To get a patent on an idea it most be a business secret. an idea is a business secret if it can be used in a business without giving it away. An contra example is amazons one click patent which can't be used in business without reveling it. This rule insure that the community get something in exchange for the patent monopoly.

# A bounty system. The patent systems should be a public bounty system. Every patent application should have a bounty on it. The initial bounty is payed by the patent seeker but it should be possible for others to add to a bounty.

# Internet system: The patents examination should be made public on the Internet where it should be accessible to all without cost.

# Non-obvious tests: First the technical problem should be posted and the should be a period for the public to post solutions to the problem, if the solution is posted. Then the poster get the bounty and the patent is rejected as obvious. But the posted solution remains available to the public.

# Novelty test: Then the patent solutions is posted and the should be a period to find prior art. If prior art is found the patent fails the novelty test and the finder get the bounty.

Re:Improve patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15925845)

The problem with all these proposed solutions is that they will not work on the scale needed. The USPTO gets HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of applications each year. I think it is now around 500,000/yr. Wikipedia has ~1.3 million english articles. Imagine having that many applications (which can easily be several dozen printed pages) in just a few years. The pendancy rate at the PTO is around 3 years in most art units, so this seems entirely plausible.
Now, I doubt people will do any significant research when there are so many applications to sift through.

Summary dismissal of perpetual motion machines? (1)

The_REAL_DZA (731082) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926020)

If so then I'm against it (until I get my patent submitted, that is, after that I'm all for it.)

Ultimately... (1)

teflaime (738532) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926023)

I believe that this system would/will suffer similar problems to the current process: It will be dominated by players with deep pockets. If you can just pay a sufficient number of people to log on and work for your patent, odds are you will win it with a forum/wiki/discussion group/whatever. Just as you can now persuade the USPTO by throwing money into lobbying them.

Could help a lot of projects (1)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926115)

Maybe the underpinning problems with Wikipedia stem from the fact that it is not valued enough to provide the necessary incentives to improve it.

If we put the entire patent process into a wiki (hell, even official approval) then there would be a very strong incentive to counter the flaws of the wiki.

Just talking out my ass. No real proof this work. Like everything else, it would probably just cause more spam and Nigeria scams.

Wisdom of the masses (1)

jolterhead (995713) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926382)

Yes, please, wisdom of the masses is exactly what we need when patenting is in question.

On the internet, with its anonymity, the so called "wisdom of the experts" is nothing but a meaning. This meaning could belong to Generic Ted, or Bill Gates. Certainly Generic Ted won't unleash his meanings to every patent, but to a subjective share. Bill only registered because he wanted to say that Microsoft should be allowed to patent the
right-mouse-click.

If the answer to that problem is moderating, then why bother ask for the masses wisdom in the first place?

You can't let anyone, but a democratic selected group of people (preferebly wizards) have the right to change the outcome of these important issues.

I think it comes down to this (1)

FlyingGuy (989135) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926612)

Software patents are bad, unless, in a patent application you specificaly lay out the code that you are patenting. Not the idea, not the "process" but the actual code. I don't really know the ramifications of this, but it wouls stop things like the NTP/RIM problem, when some fool claims they have a patent that is really nothing more then a concept rather than and actualy working device.

I can see RIM patenting the RIM handheld, or Palm with the Treo, Seagate with their newest Hard drive read/write heads that give them higher density on a drive platter.

I can see company X patenting their particular implementation of an IP stack, but not the idea of an IP stack.

Hopefully neither... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15927830)

I can see company X patenting their particular implementation of an IP stack, but not the idea of an IP stack.
"[T]heir particular implementation", even in mere object code, is already protected by copyright, immediately, without even calling an attorney (or sending copies to the Library of Congress anymore), for free, and for many decades longer than such protection could be economically justifiable (in particular in that field).

So they shouldn't be able to obtain a patent for mathematical concepts and rules: Neither do they need them, nor does society (as long as there isn't any useful disclosure it could get in return).

In case such "inventors" (rather don't call them that!) do get software patents nonetheless, scholars have convincingly argued that something much closer to actual source code than a mere abstract idea ought to be required of them, see e.g. http://ijlit.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstra ct/eai031v1 [oxfordjournals.org] .

The problem is, if a system goes down the path (though the literature points out good reasons not to) of granting software patents in the first place, it will have to recognise the potential case of an idea that is ingenious but incredibly difficult and costly to implement - so you couldn't just ask for a commented source "that GNU make can compile without warnings" for every application - and each "software inventor" would argue that their's is one of these, "exceptionally" not requiring disclosure of a prototype.

Patent Examiner Accountability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15927146)

One problem with the current system is that there is no accountability on the part of the patent examiner. Any mistakes made by the patent office are cleaned up, at great expense, by the judicial system. Or the mistakes are never dealt with because the expense to one or more of the parties would be too great.

I wish my job was like that. At my job, the more dumb things I do, the more likely I am to get fired. The same should hold true for patent examiners. They should be held accountable in some fashion for their decisions. As it stands, they can readily afford to be among the laziest most uninformed people in any occupation. And they are.
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